Parliament, Sunday 15 October 2017 – Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Ms Thandi Modise has told a Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) Parliamentary Forum meeting that legislatures are key in monitoring implementation of policies to ensure that accountability, transparency and good governance become the order of the day.
Ms Modise, who is leading a delegation of the South African Parliament to the 137th Inter-Parliamentary (IPU) Assembly in St Petersburg, Russia, addressed the meeting of the Forum, which met on the sidelines of the 137th IPU Assembly. The meeting of the Forum, attended by Presiding Officers of BRICS Parliaments and currently chaired by China, discussed issues such as international relations and exchange visits, parliamentary diplomacy and cooperation, common approaches on major international matters as well as international trade and partnerships.
Chairperson Modise said it was important that Parliaments in the BRICS countries paid attention to the outcomes of the 9th BRICS Summit, held recently under the theme "Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future”.
“The outcomes of the Summit were practical economic cooperation, global economic governance, international peace and security and people-to-people exchanges. We must consolidate and strengthen our capacity as Parliaments to monitor the implementation of BRICS programme without necessarily creating bureaucratic layers that could become obstacles in the future. The fact that the BRICS structure is slim and small should be seen as an advantage to effectively drive our programs, including using ICT to communicate effectively,” said Ms Modise.
The Forum meeting, she noted, provided an opportune time for BRICS legislatures to renew their confidence in the transformative path they have chosen of providing progressive alternative global governance that cannot be faulted.
“We must advocate to and educate the masses about what BRICS stand for. As representatives of the electorates, we must make sure that citizens’ voices are heard. We must ensure implementation of developmental programs.”
Ms Modise congratulated China on successfully chairing the BRICS Parliamentary Forum, which, she said, provided valuable lessons for South Africa when it takes over this BRICS role. The Forum is chaired on a rotational basis by Parliaments of member countries.
On Saturday, women MPs of the South African delegation participated in the 26th Session of the Forum of Women Parliamentarians on the sidelines of the 137th IPU Assembly. Discussions centered on women’s contribution – from a gender perspective - to the Assembly's discussions. South Africa’s representatives took part in a commission on the subject: How technology can be of service of democracy and gender equality”. In this discussion, the South Africa representatives argued, amongst others, that improved access to technology unlocked enormous opportunities for women, helping them to overcome illiteracy, mobility constraints and boosted access to information.
However, it has also exposed women to serious threats, about which necessary and appropriate information is needed. For instance, research conducted by the Yale School of Medicine revealed that cell phone radiation exposure during pregnancy impacts on foetal brain development and may also cause hyperactivity. When it comes to online harassment, research shows that women, particularly young women, are exposed to sexual harassment, stalking, and abusive language mainly on social media platforms.
Therefore, South Africa proposes the following resolutions for adoption at the next Session of the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, scheduled for March 2018:
· Calls on Parliaments and governments to strengthen measures, including through legislation, to control exposure of citizens, particularly pregnant women and children to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by wireless technologies such as mobile phones, computer tablets and Wi-Fi;
· Encourages Parliaments and governments to adopt progressive measures aimed at addressing threats that technology can pose, such as cyber-related violence, harassment, and online security, which has negatively impacted on women’s right to privacy and freedom of expression;
· Calls on all stakeholders to improve access to technology for women and girls, particularly in remote and marginalised areas;
· Encourages governments, in partnership with the private sector, to promote higher representation of women in science and technology. Also for governments to integrate gender mainstreaming in their strategic documents related to science and technology.
The South African Parliamentary delegation to the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, led by Ms Modise, includes Ms Mmatlala Boroto, Ms Doris Dlakude, Mr Pumzile Justice Mnguni, Mr Eddie Makue, Mr Mike Waters and Mr Lehlohonolo Goodwill Mokoena. The five-day Assembly ends on Wednesday.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
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